But unlike HBO and “Game of Thrones,” WGN and the Cubs aren’t hyping their final season together after 72 years.,In my first year as Cubs beat writer in 1997, WGN televised 144 games.,The following January, the Cubs owners — Tribune Co. — decided to reduce the WGN schedule to 92 games, placing 62 games on CLTV, the company’s local cable news channel.,Fans gradually grew accustomed to watching more games on cable, and in 2003 the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks began their own sports channel, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, which is now NBC Sports Chicago.,WGN will televise the Cubs' season opener — likely for the last time »

'I have more confidence than last year': A healthy Yu Darvish eyes his return to dominance with the Cubs » read more

The Punisher’s second season begins with Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) grabbing a beer at a dive bar in some nondescript Michigan town.,In the first three episodes of its second season, The Punisher delivers some of the best television the soon-to-be-discontinued Marvel-Netflix enterprise has made in years.,Granted, the Punisher was always going to be a tricky character to adapt to the screen: The show’s first season was delayed in 2017 after the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 people.,Even so, The Punisher deserves credit for its initial conceit: The violence was there, but it was expressed through the lens of Frank, Billy, and other characters’ service in the military and the displacement they all felt returning home without any resources to start their postwar lives.,So while The Punisher offered some good through two seasons—namely, impressive fight scenes, an empathetic approach to veterans, and a nuanced lead performance by Bernthal—its presumed cancellation on Netflix isn’t just strategic cost-cutting by a company that knows it can’t compete with Disney’s impending Marvel roster.

IF THE NFL IS DOING its sly diligence -- as its officiating crew yellow-flagged so magnificently in holding the audience deep into New Orleans's 20-14 NFC semi over Philadelphia last Sunday -- there is simply no way young magic man Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (-3) don't bounce New England in the AFC Championship game Sunday (CBS, 5:40 p.m.).,As for the Saints (-3, tiny push to 3½) and the visiting L.A. Rams (Fox, 2:05 p.m.), if the NFL allows the game to be played organically the whole way through -- extremely unlikely -- New Orleans can name the final.,THE LATE RED RUSH -- without question, one of the two or three most colorful play-by-play men in the history of Chicago sportscasting and the best pitchman that Gonnella Bread ever had -- will finally be appropriately honored by Loyola University.,… Broadcast hop-in of the week was Snoop Dogg, who assisted in the call of the L.A. Kings win over Pittsburgh last Saturday.,… CBS's meteoric Tony Romo, asked by one national reporter to break down the top young QBs in the NFL, had Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson.

NEW YORK (AP) — In a story Jan. 16 about Sinclair Broadcast's new streaming service, The Associated Press reported erroneously on the company's ownership of national television networks and channels.,A corrected version of the story is below:

Sinclair Broadcast, the nation's largest owner of television stations, is launching a free, ad-supported streaming service.,The nation's largest owner of television stations launched a free, ad-supported streaming service Wednesday drawing on local news, sports and other programs from the 191 TV stations it owns in 89 U.S. markets.,Sinclair was admonished by media watchdogs in April after the sports news service Deadspin pieced together clips of dozens of TV anchors for Sinclair reading from the same script.,The Stirr service will also carry an online tennis channel called The T, along with networks it doesn't own, including Cheddar business news, NASA TV and the World Poker Tour. read more

Charter Communications Inc., the third largest-U.S. pay-TV provider, had a midnight deadline Dec. 31 to renew a programming agreement with Tribune Media Co. or potentially lose local stations in 24 markets including Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.,Because Tribune’s stations include Fox and CBS affiliates, the blackout could disrupt coverage of NCAA basketball games and NFL playoffs this weekend, starting with the Seattle Seahawks versus Dallas Cowboys Saturday in a game to be carried on Fox.,According to Tribune Broadcasting, the blackout affects roughly 6 million cable customers who had access to local Tribune stations, while 14 million customers lost access to WGN America, the company’s basic subscriber losses for the pay-TV industry in the third quarter have added to the pressure on media companies and cable and satellite operators during the current round of renewal talks.,Earlier this month, Nexstar Media Group Inc. agreed to buy Tribune Media for $4.1 billion, potentially surpassing Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and forming the largest local-TV broadcaster in the U.S. Tribune’s total of 42 stations include Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC affiliates, as well as CW and MyNetworkTV.,Charter has a big presence in Los Angeles, where Chicago-based Tribune’s KTLA is scheduled to broadcast the Tournament of Roses Parade New Year’s Day.

The dispute between Charter Communications and Fox 61 — as well as one involving Cox Communications and WTNH — threatens to take both stations off cable systems operated by the two companies just in time for New Year’s Day.,The dispute between Charter Communications and Fox 61 — as well as one involving Cox Communications and WTNH — threatens to take both stations off cable systems operated by the two companies just in time for New Year’s Day.,The dispute between Charter Communications and Fox 61 — as well as one involving Cox Communications and WTNH — ... more

Photo: Jeff Roberson read more

Prep Boys Basketball BSN Classic at Heritage: Georgetown-Ridge Farm vs. Indiana Math and Science, 10 a.m. BSN Classic at Heritage: Salt Fork vs. Centralia Lutheran, 11:30 a.m.

Bi-County Holiday Tournament at Fountain Central, third place: Fountain Central vs. Attica, 3 p.m. Bi-County Holiday Tournament at Fountain Central, championship: Covington vs. Seeger, 6:30 p.m. Pontiac Holiday Tournament: Danville vs. Warren or West Aurora, 4 p.m. BSN Classic at Heritage: vs. Blue Ridge, 4 p.m. BSN Classic at Heritage: North Vermillion vs. Judah Christian, 5:30 p.m. Tri-County Tournament at Kansas: Westville vs.TBD Prep Girls Basketball Charleston Holiday Tournament: Danville vs.TBD, 10:30 a.m. Bi-County Holiday Tournament at Fountain Central, third-place: Fountain Central vs. Attica or Seeger, 1:30 p.m. Blue Devil Classic: Salt Fork vs. Cissna Park, 1 p.m. Blue Devil Classic: Westville vs. South Vermillion, 2:30 p..,m Blue Devil Classic: North Vermillion vs. Villa Grove/Heritage, 2:30 p.m. Braggin Rights Classic in Cincinnati: Schlarman Academy vs. Columbus (Ohio) Africentric Early College, 3 p.m. Tri-City/Sangamon Valley Holiday Tournament: Armstrong-Potomac vs. TBD, 3:30 p.m. Blue Devil Classic: vs. Benton Central, 4 p.m. Bi-County Holiday Tournament at Fountain Central, championship: Covington vs. Attica or Seeger, 5 p.m. Prep Wrestling Fountain Central at Twin Lakes Super 6 Tournament, 8 a.m. Danville at Lincoln Invitational, 11 a.m. Hoopeston Area at Porta Oakwood/Salt Fork, Seeger and Westville/Georgetown-Ridge Farm at New Year's Challenge at Palmer Arena read more

Charter Communications Spectrum customers could miss out on a holiday tradition: watching KTLA Channel 5s television coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.Charter and Chicago-based Tribune Media, which owns KTLA and 32 other television stations in Charter markets, including San Diego County, have spent the last few days trying to hammer out a new agreement under which Charter can transmit Tribunes station signals.,The two sides have been wrangling over key details of the carriage agreement, including a proposed fee hike by Tribune, with a looming deadline of 9 p.m. PT Monday thats New Years Eve.Without a new pact in place, or an agreement on a short-term extension, Charter would be forced to remove Tribune station signals from its cable lineup just hours before KTLA begins its marathon parade coverage.,2018 has been a bruising year for traditional pay-TV operators with the industry on track to lose 1.1 million customers this year, including more than 200,000 cable TV subscribers from Charter, according to recent estimates from MoffettNathanson Research.Weve offered Spectrum fair market rates for our top-rated local news, live sports and high-quality entertainment programming, and similarly fair rates for our cable network, WGN America, Tribune Media spokesman Gary Weitman said in a statement.,Disney-owned ABC stations in New York and Philadelphia would be included in the outage, however, Disney said this week that negotiations continue in earnest and we remain optimistic that we can reach a deal.In addition, station owner Nexstar Broadcasting Inc. is threatening to go dark on New Years Day on the small Madison, Wisc.-based TDS Telecom, which serves communities in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Texas and Oregon unless the companies reach a truce.There have been 137 television blackouts in 2018, including an unresolved and protracted dispute between satellite TV provider Dish Networks and Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications.,Television station owners this year will collect a combined $10 billion in such fees, up from $9.3 billion in 2017, according to the alliance.Retransmission fees have also been the sticking point in the current contract talks between Tribune and Charter, according to people close to the negotiations who were not authorized to comment publicly.The Tribune situation is not the only dispute that Charter is facing.The taxpayer-supported California Public Advocates Office filed a petition late last week to reopen the Public Utility Commissions approval of Charters 2016 takeover of Time Warner Cable, which turned Charter into the largest pay-TV operator in Southern California with about 1.8 million customer homes.The Public Advocates Office alleged in legal papers that Charter has not been forthcoming with information about how many homes in California now have access to internet download speeds of at least 300 megabits per second.

But Rudnick is among a growing number of consumers who are turning to over-the-air digital antennas a one-time investment of as little as $20 as a way to slash their monthly video subscription costs.Research firms and electronics manufacturers say cord-cutting consumers such as Rudnick have driven up TV antenna sales and usage in recent years.,These value-conscious streamers, as they are known in the industry, are willing to cobble together a mosaic of video sources to replace the traditional pay TV bundle, which now costs an average of $107 a month, according to a recent study by the Leichtman Research Group.This year, 8.1 million over-the-air TV antennas will be delivered to retailers in the U.S., up 2% from last year and 8% over 2016, according to the Consumer Technology Assn.Nielsen estimates that 13.8% of U.S. homes depend on antennas to get their TV, up from 10.3% in 2014.,Research firm GfK North America puts the number of over-the-air TV homes at 16.4 million.The rapid acceleration of cord-cutting has put heavy pressure on the cable industry and media companies that own pay TV channels that depend on the steady revenue stream that subscribers provide.,The number of consumers whove canceled traditional pay TV service is expected to climb 33% to nearly 25 million this year, according to estimates from research firm eMarketer.Though worrisome for Hollywood, the trend has been a boon to antenna manufacturers like Channel Master.,Station ownership groups and the media conglomerates get a cut of pay TV subscriber fees, giving them little incentive to promote over-the-air antenna use.Consumers largely have to depend on manufacturer websites or blogs such as Cordcutters.com to learn which channels are available over the air in their area and which antenna is right for them.We do a terrible job of explaining that your local stations are available over the air for free, said Neal Sabin, vice chairman of Weigel Broadcasting, a Chicago-based TV station group.

Beginning next week, TV customers on Verizon FiOS and Charter’s Spectrum service could be hit by widespread channel blackouts after the companies’ contracts with major programming giants expire.,Verizon’s 4.5 million TV customers could lose access to ESPN, Freeform and the Disney Channel and other networks belonging to Disney, as well as ABC affiliates based in Philadelphia and New York, on Dec. 31.,The contract fight between Verizon and Disney has spilled out into the public this week, with both companies sending out messages to customers notifying them who will be to blame if a new deal isn’t signed by the deadline.,Verizon began delivering emails to customers on Wednesday accusing Disney of trying to jack up its prices for content, as well as attempting to force Verizon TV subscribers to pay for an additional channel devoted to regional sports, the ACC Network.,NFL playoffs could also become harder to access for Spectrum customers as a result of its dispute with Tribune, according to a company spokesman, because Tribune operates CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates in various markets.